Credit: Julia Mason


Dublin noise-makers Sprints have released two EPs to date, last year’s debut Manifesto and A Modern Job released this spring. The 4-piece comprising Karla Chubb (lead singer/guitar), Colm O’Reilly (guitar), Jack Callan (drums) and Sam McCann (bass guitar) are signed to Nice Swan Records. 2022 has been a pivotal year for the band and I caught up with Karla to learn more.

I read that you were inspired to form a band by seeing Savages and Jehnny Beth. Is that true, or was the seed already there?
I think the seed was always there. I think all of us always wanted to be musicians. Myself, Jack and Colm played in bands previously and the guys have played together for years. And with that band we weren’t really fulfilled, and it was at a Savages gig that myself Jack, and Colm were at and she was performing and going into the crowd, and we love their albums. That is when it really kind of hit us that’s the kind of music we want to make, why aren’t we making it, I want to be that visceral and almost like wild. So Savages from the start were a major major inspiration and when we first got into the shed with Sam and we were jamming, I think the only thing I said let’s try jams. Idles and Savages were the main music we were listening to then so we’ll see how it goes. When he plugged his bass in and turned the noise up as he always does, it kinda clicked immediately. And ever since Jehnny Beth has been a massive influence, particularly for Jack and myself, as a writer, as a feminist, everything she stands for, the people who she collaborates with she is just one of the underrated artists.

She comes across as comfortable in her own skin
Yeah and whenever I listen to her on 6Music she was really soft spoken and very gentle and very French, but you see her live and that is something I really resonated with. When I tell people I am a very shy person and not an extrovert in any sense naturally, and that alter ego she has onstage has really spoken to me, I can almost pretend I’m someone else. When you listen to her on 6Music she is not the Jehnny Beth that you see in Savages onstage. It’s amazing to see that come out.

I don’t want to dwell on the pandemic, but I did want to ask you about your own motivation when Covid hit.
There was never any doubt that we would continue, but I think the question that struck most artists was how would we continue. To be honest it probably came at the best time for us. We only had the Manifesto EP come out, and one or two singles, we had the EP recorded with Dan, Dan was mixing it during the pandemic for us I think. And we had these songs ready and waiting and we didn’t know what the next step was. That allowed us to really step back and write. I was listening to all this music, consuming all this content. I would have these spurts of creativity and go in and write. A Modern Job definitely sounds a little bit of a world away from Manifesto but that gave us the time and space to do that and without Covid. I do worry almost, about where we’d be now if we had rushed into an album and we wouldn’t be proud of it. But also that general time of bonding. The restrictions in Ireland were some of the heaviest but we were given that saving grace of ok you can meet up for sports, rehearsals and music in groups of four. Escaping to Sprints was the only time we were allowed not to be in the house and it brought us closer together. It became a safe haven where we could meet up have a few beers, play music and write. I know it was really tough on people’s mental health, it became like a second family and I am so thankful for that, that we were all so dying to do it. That’s when we realised how important music is to us.

There were obviously times that we lost out on lots of opportunities that haven’t come back. We were supposed to support The Murder Capital at Liverpool Sound City and we thought that’s it, that’s our big break. Support them in a 3,000 capacity venue and we were never re-booked for it. We lost out on touring opportunities, a big BBC opportunity so there was obviously hardships there. But looking back now “what’s meant to be won’t pass you by”. It’s really allowed us that time to grow and we’re so sure of ourselves, not saying the sound isn’t constantly changing because thats not set in stone, but that this is what we need to do and want to do. And Sprints feels like a fully formed child that can just go on and live now.

In terms of song-writing are you the main lyricist?
What we say is that I put the bones of everything together and the guys add the meat and the spice and everything else. I would be the song-writer and the only one involved in lyrics, except for Sam. Generally when he’s singing he would write his own parts and I would help sometimes.

Some of your lyrics are extraordinary, for example on ‘Modern Job‘. It allows you connect with your audience through the lyrics. This is only one example of you incapsulate situations that are so relatable:
“I wish I was bolder, I wish I was brace,
I wish I didn’t count the days by the things I didn’t say”

Lockdown really forced us to innovate and change how we worked. Before, I’d go off and write a song and things would just come to me in terms of a melody or a guitar part or a specific line in my head. I don’t know how to say this politely but I would just shit out the demo of a song in a matter of minutes. It used to be voice notes on my phone and its now transpired into very rough garage band demos and during the pandemic when Sam and me didn’t meet for a month and he is very good at producing and logic and playing every instrument under the sun so it became this very collaborative process with me and Sam. I’d bring it to Jack and Colm and say “what do you think, is it worthwhile?” thankfully most of the time it is! We sit down and play it live and we’d start to set out structure as nothing is ever set in stone. I always say that things are movable, changeable, fixable because its pretty important to all of us that all our voices are heard. I am very conscious I’m the only female, I’m queer and I don’t want to put words into mouths, or experiences or narratives that they’re uncomfortable with so everything is brought to the table, everybody has their input and I think live is where we workshop the best. We go into rehearsal room and we chat, we have a few drinks, we have smoke breaks and we workshop. It’s kinda one of the main issues we face, when we get together we can’t stop writing and we just jam and jam and jam and 4 or 5 songs in a couple of hours come out. We cherry pick what we think is worth it. But lyrically its either completely written on the spot and never changed or its when we go into the studio and its written then and there and can’t be changed..

So ideas come to you in day to day life that you note down, rather than sitting down specifically to write?
To be honest its a mixture of both, the luxury of time is the main contributing factor.
For the EP we had a wealth of songs that we knew worked. We knew we had 7 or 8 songs that were solid and we’d pick our best four from them. A lot of the time it is just walking or word or a sentence pop into my head and I write it down and something very naturally builds from it. But ‘Little Fix‘ is a good example of when I was like “I’m going to sit down and write a song!“. I was listening to a lot of the Osees at the time, it was the height of lockdown and, there was police vans outside and sirens on the whole time You can actually hear a siren very subtly in the intro. And I just needed to write something very aggressive and fast paced, and I loved it. But often times its natural, I’m walking around, I’ll play and things just kinda fall out.

And how did you come to the attention of Nice Swan Records?
To be honest, we still don’t really know! We’ve asked them before and they said they saw ‘The Cheek‘ on some random Irish playlist, I think they may have been scouting Irish music. That was before Fontaines D.C. had really exploded and Pillow Queens were around obviously. Their whole ethos is to focus on music outside of the hotbed cities, essentially outside of London where bands may not have the same access to exposure. I remember the day they reached out so clearly. This was during lockdown again. I got the email and I quite literally started shaking. It was from Alex saying “Hey lads we really like your music, what’s your plans?” and I’m like “This is it! This is it!”. To be completely honest they have changed our lives, they are amazing. They are just two really passionate music fans. They’re our managers now as well. They came to Glastonbury with us and they are coming over to Ireland soon to come to gigs. They really know their stuff. And its clear from working with them that they are in it for the music They are not shy to tell us not to take certain opportunities even if it would have meant a percentage for them. They are trying to help us to make the best moves.

You have talked in the past about a feeling of Imposter Syndrome. Has that shifted with experience and more exposure?
I think parts of it have. Performing live I don’t get as many nerves, I still get nervous but its definitely more manageable. I think in terms of writing, I don’t think its gone, I don’t know if it will ever fully fade. I don’t know if I want it to. But even just watching people like Sam and Colm and Jack. Sam can play way more instruments than me. But it keeps you motivated, keeps you pushing.

You are such a central part of the live performance, and you look like you’re having an absolute blast.
We have a lot of fun, I love playing with the guys. I think it just comes down to being a girl in a heavy rock band, and not really having had that much training. Maybe technically not being as good as other people, then maybe there’s the idea I should be extra good, that women often have to try ten times as hard to be given half the respect. That’s very ingrained in me, it’ll never go, I try not to let that hold me back. There are definitely days when I think I’m not that good. But at the end of the day if we’re playing life and performing then maybe that’s my skill, maybe that’s what I have that other people don’t. Its one thing to be able to play Bohemian Rhapsody but its another to be able to write a song

Can you tell us a little about working with Daniel Fox, who has now produced a number of Irish bands ? What does he bring to Sprints?
The main thing he’s brought is the introduction of textures. He taught us to think about textures and add a lot of depth and add a lot of layers. Taught us to focus on the whole and we were focusing too much on the parts. Now we think a lot more of the sound as a band rather than individual parts. We record live now which is a massive . We want that natural live performance feel to come across and I think its impossible to have that energy on a click track. The four of us are in a room and basically I’m standing there and mouthing the words dramatically clearly annunciating so Colm and Jack know exactly where we are going! But that’s the main difference between the two EPs Manifesto and Modern Job. With Modern Job its the first one we did fully live and you can feel it, the energy, its more powerful, more natural. I don’t think we’ll ever go back. We’re hoping to work with Dan on the album because engineering wise he really brings a lot, he knows exactly the sound we are going for, he’s been great.

Playing live 2022 has given Sprints some special moments including SXSW, The Great Escape, supporting Liam Gallagher and playing Glastonbury. How was it being on that big stage supporting Liam Gallagher in Belfast?
It was definitely the most nervous I’ve been. We went and sound-checked and there was nobody there because it was before the venue opened. Colm went out for a sneak peak about an hour before we went on stage and said “oh yeah, there’s a few people there!” We walked out and all we could see was a sea of bucket hats and people cheering and shouting. It was insane. It was scary but exhilarating. Once we settled into it, it felt amazing and it was amazing to see that if that’s what we’re playing now where can we go in the next few years.

And Glastonbury was the same weekend
We got the overnight ferry from Belfast to Liverpool on the Friday night and drove at 6am on Saturday morning to Glastonbury and played at 8pm that night. We got home at 6am and played again at 12pm and then enjoyed the rest of our Sunday stressful. Glastonbury was another world, everything I had imagined, but less scary. I really hope we get to go back.

Sprints play their biggest headline gig to date at The Dome, Tufnell Park, London on 13 October with support by Eades and Nixer. Sprints also play SMG Music Fest in Belgium with The Lounge Society, TRAAMS and Egyptian Blue on 9 September. What other plans do Sprints have?
TRAAMS are one of my favourite bands since I can remember. I saw them once as a support and to think we’re sharing a stage with them is insane. Plans? We are writing the album, its in the works. We are looking to find the right person, to put it bluntly to help us to make it a reality and put it out for us. Essentially the plans are to keep writing and keep playing as much as possible. We really hope that the festival season next year will be even bigger than this year. Album 1 is written and songs for album 2 are underway. So its hoping to find the right partner to help us to keep making music, to be blunt to do it full-time. Its progressed so much in the last year we just need the time and the opportunity to focus solely on that. Playing Glastonbury on the Sunday and then working at my desk in my apartment on the Monday was a bit rough! We are constantly writing and developing with a lot of influences that are constantly changing, while we have the time we are just writing as much as possible. The demos might be rough but they are there. I think there are the guts of a decent album. The most important thing is that we want to make sure it is one body of work and that it says something about us, and I think we have that. We just want to find the right people to work with.

Karla also confirmed that the new single by Sprints will be out on 31 August on Nice Swan Records.

For more information on Sprints please check out their facebook.
Their biggest headline show to date is at The Dome, Tufnell Park, London on Thursday 13 October. Supports are Eades and Nixer. For tickets and more details please check here.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.